IT DOES MATTER! MC-HEADACHE: A TALE OF TWO ACTIVISTS....

TOPLUM POSTASI Weekly Newspaper of the Turkish Speaking Communities in Britain

Thurs 28th March 1996

McDonald's, the fast food giant, has been furious since the discovery of a small leaflet allegedly distributed by London Greenpeace -having no links with Greenpeace International- in 1989/90 The leaflet entitled "What's wrong with McDonald's?" told about the effect of company's operations on the environment, on human health, on millions of farmed animals, on the Third World and on McDonald's own staff. McDonald's sued Helen Steel (30) and Dave Morris (41), two supporters of London Greenpeace over the leaflet. Helen and Dave, who have an annual income of about 7,000 have been defending themselves against the burger giant -which has $26 billion takings a year- without legal aid, because it's considered a "libel" case. They were also denied their right to a jury trial. McDonald's thought it would be "a piece of cake" to claim victory against two then-unemployed activists. However, as time went by. it has taken more than 200 days -and still continuing- becoming the longest-ever trial in British history.

McDonald's used all necessary means of media and propaganda to clear their image and therefore published some leaflets nation-wide calling their critics "liars". Helen and Dave took out a counterclaim for libel against McDonald's which is running concurrently with McDonald's libel action. McDonald's also used other means such as consensus", sending members of their US Board of Directors to London to meet with Helen and Dave to seek "ways of ending the case". This was a clear indicator of McDonald's worrying about the way the case is becoming a "boomerang" for them and the bad publicity they are receiving.

The world of activism didn't play the role of three monkeys and a flock of supporting initiatives all over the world have started. McLibel Support Campaign. based in London, was backed by McSpotlight which is another supportive project of McInformation Network based in 14 countries. People started to report anything they assumed wrong-done by McDonald's to those networks so that the word would be spread over. And this year in February, McSpotlight kicked off the latest tool of struggle against McDonald's: A Web Site on the Internet. The Web site, borrowing their own phrase, was the "final nail in the coffin of McDonald's global censorship strategy". Now everyone can surf on this site to get a massive hypertext documentation on the case, the defendants, links and contacts from all nodes of the network world-wide, as well as the pile of legal documents from the trial.

Now it's teeth-gnashing time for McDonald's to see how an attempt at silencing the "two defenceless" turned into an international noise, a nightmare. There's no way out to stop and silence about 180 UK and international witnesses who are giving evidence in court about the company's impact on ecology in the Americas, on treatment of farmed animals, on the contents and nutritious quality of their food, on the right of trade union in their branches and other similar practices alike.

We have nothing to lose, but our chains of disinformation and misinformation about multinationals by multinationals. It's the time to knock at the door of McLibel Support Campaign and deep dark secrets about multinationals.

The group comes together every Thursday and their address is:

c/o 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX. tel/fax: 0171-7131269.

The Web Site (which also features an article about the trial published in Toplum Postasi last month) can be surfed at:

http://www.mcspotlight.org/


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